Traditional Networking – Does It Still Work

July 9, 2009

As the debate over Twitter / Social Media marketing tool heats up, we should all remember that other, successful, networking and marketing strategies exist.  Nearly everyone familiar with the subject will suggest that new media combined with traditional practice marketing will lead to the best results.  Despite my strong belief in the power of Twitter and Social Media, even I acknowledge, that a successful practice cannot rely exclusively on social media marketing.

The Rainmaker Blog recently posted an article entitled: “Law Firm Marketing: 7 Tips on Finding Clients Through Formal Networking” and it is worth a read.  I’ll give you the seven tips but if you want the explanation of how to use them, why to use them, and why they are successful, you will have to go check out the Rainmaker Blog to learn the intricacies:

  1. Join the right groups
  2. Join elite groups
  3. Use an “audio logo”
  4. Remember your primary purpose
  5. Ask open-ended questions
  6. Be intentional in your follow-up
  7. Track your efforts

[Explanations Here]. I only partially agree with their suggestions.  I think #1 and #2 are definitely important.  I question #3 and its effectiveness (depending on the practice you are trying to build).  I don’t find #4-#6 as particularly helpful; they are too general.  And I agree with #7.  But each one of these points is greatly enhanced when social media is added to the mix.  Your efforts will be easier and more effective.

Ultimately, running a successful law practice is like running a business.  You can market all day and all night but if you have a product that no one in the market wants or that is beat out by the competition, you’re marketing efforts will all be for naught.  The best law firm marketing comes from practicing good law that helps clients achieve their goals and satisfies their needs.


Lawyers Turning Away From Twitter?

July 3, 2009

The Law.com Legal Blog Watch has been doing an excellent job of covering stories about lawyers who despise Twitter.  Okay, “despise” might be a mischaracterization.  They have posted blogs by Larry Bodine on why lawyers should not use Twitter and more recently, on Tom McLain’s departure from Twitter.  To its credit, Law.com has also blogged in favor of Twitter marketing via hyper-popular Adrian Dayton’s blawg review.

The Social Media Lawyer wants to weigh in: Don’t buy the hype — on either side.

Bodine and McLain are correct.  Twitter will not build a law practice.  Just like buying a stack of fancy looking business cards, leasing some fancy new office space, or “hanging up a shingle” won’t build a law practice.  But the current discussion of Twitter as a marketing tool is too narrow (and often misunderstood).  For example, Bodine states:

After months of using Twitter, I’ve learned that it is a shouting post for relentless self-promoters, a dumping ground for press releases and advertising, an ego-driven competition to amass followers, and a target for computer-automated Tweets.

Wow.  That sounds a lot like the same problems that come along with advertising in phone books or on billboards.  I  disagree with Bodine’s claim that Twitter cannot be used for business development.  The underlying principle of social media is to connect people who share some sort of commonality.  Those people are more likely to turn to each other in their decision making processes.  In our business, having a big network, especially a big network that trusts you and frequently benefits from our advice, is invaluable.

McLain’s approach is more reasonable.  He doesn’t outright criticize Twitter as a marketing tool.  Rather, he states:

A fair assessment of my own marketing practices is that my priorities have been wrong and I was spending too much time on Twitter and not enough on higher ranking methods.

And in all fairness, everyone should read McLain’s response (which can be found below), which explains the purpose for his infamous “tweet” and provides a much better and more thorough explanation of McLain’s thoughts on Twitter marketing than can be found on the infamous Law.com blog post.

That said, it still strikes me as odd that the concept of Twitter marketing can be completely written off with a straight face.  Good lawyers know that a good law practice is built — and has always been built — based on good legal work and good results.  Law firm marketing, outside the P.I. world, focuses on highlighting your specialties and the unique characteristics that you bring to the table.  When was the last time someone retained Kirkland, Skadden, or Cravath from a phone book ad?  Never.  (On a side note, I think Quinn Emanuel’s “Justice is Blind” campaign is clever and probably effective).

For firm lawyers, at least, Twitter is not about building a practice; it is about sustaining a practice.  Twitter, like blogs, like newsletters, like updates, like all those other things you send out to your clients, simply helps you share your wares.  It is a showcase.  A much classier showcase than the back of a phone book.  As numerous law firms have already noticed, Twitter is a fast, easy, and efficient way of proclaiming their success and their expertise.  This is good marketing, not an “an ego-driven competition to amass followers,” as Bodine would have you believe.  Check out these names:

Fulbright & Jaworski
McDermott Will & Emery
Weil Gotshal & Manges
Greenberg Traurig

And other major players are waiting in the wings. According to @LawyerKM, here are some of the firms making their Twitter presence known:

Those, my friends, are some heavy hitters.  They aren’t “active” yet and it is possible that the firms don’t intend to use the Twitter feeds.  But they are there none the less.

Now, it is true that Twitter is a new technology, in the process of developing, and it is most certainly not an end-all-be-all to lawyer marketing.  But to simply discount it as a marketing method is ridiculous.  Especially in a time when clients want to know who their attorneys are, the types of people they will be working with, and what unique characteristics and abilities their counselors bring to the table.  Trust me lawyers; clients will use Twitter to compare law firms in the same way that they are currently using Martindale-Hubbell and LinkedIn.

Twitter is a client facilitator.  Other uses may develop over time but there are plenty of opportunities out there already.  We are lawyers; we practice law; we market so that we can practice law.  Twitter is only a small part of a marketing plan that is even a smaller part of building a successful legal practice.  But Twitter is a factor in that plan and while there may be some people who disagree, but those people are wrong.  Don’t worry, this site will contain many more articles about how social media is helping practicing and firm lawyers achieve success.

UPDATE: 7/3/2009:

Seyfarth Shaw LLP definitely has a Twitter presence.  Check out the comments and follow them at @seyfarthshawLLP – http://twitter.com/seyfarthshawLLP (Mark, thinks for the heads-up!)

Haynes and Boone LLP is on board too: @haynesboone – http://twitter.com/haynesboone

–Tyson
http://twitter.com/tysonsnow (@tysonsnow)
http://linkedin.com/in/tysonsnow


Social Media Legal Spotlight: JDSupra / JDScoop

June 18, 2009

This is the first in what I hope will be a long-running list of posts that spotlight specific social media sites that are tailored towards assisting attorneys and lawyers market themselves, their skills, and the particular value that they bring to an attorney-client relationship.  I have chosen JDSupra (and its associated blog, JDScoop) to be the initial spotlight for several reasons.

First, JDSupra does much more than allow users to socialize.  In its own words: “JD Supra allows lawyers, law firms, and legal professionals to publish and distribute their work online to a wide audience.”  I know what you are thinking: so JDSupra is a lot like Scribd.com isn’t it?  Both sites are social repositories for various documents.  But JDSupra has the added benefit of focusing on all things legal.  You won’t find the following on Scribd:

Legal professionals publish and share court filings, briefs, alerts, articles, newsletters, and numerous other legal documents on JD Supra.  Our tagline reads: “Give content. Get noticed.” Our accompanying blog, JD Scoop, celebrates this great work and the people behind it. Read commentary on court filings and decisions, interviews with JD Supra contributors whose work shapes the legal landscape, as well postings on media coverage, marketing, legal knowledge management, and many other related subjects.

As legal junkies, we love having access to new and hot pleadings, such as the Microsoft Click-Fraud Complaint posted by yours truly.  We especially like having access to these filings without having to pay the PACER fees that often are required when accessing federal dockets.  But JDSupra does much more than collect and publish legal pleadings, articles, summaries, and treatises.

Second, JDSupra distributes your documents to targeted audiences across numerous social media and new media channels.  Post a “Hot Doc” and wait 30 seconds, and bam, @jdsupra and @jdtwitt have posted it on Twitter.  Thousands of followers, who have voluntarily signed up to follow specific legal topics get a link to your posting and then get to see your work in action (more or less).  For attorneys who are confident in their work product, this tool can be invaluable.  For those who don’t want the prying eyes to see how they handle their cases, well, you best stay away.

Third, let’s talk about JDSupra’s Law Centers:

Our new Law Centers aggregate by subject all of the documents and legal information posted daily to the site. Organized into four broad categories (Business Law, Personal Law, Government Law, and Law Practice) the centers cover topics such as:

(See full list of Law Center topics here.)

Law Centers provide a quick and easy way to discover (and actually read) new legal developments essentially on the same day that the “event” became a “development.”  The comparison is not entirely consistent, but where Twitter is “real-time search,” JDSupra is “real-time legal developments.”

Also impressive is the numerous ways that JDSupra and JDScoop have integrated social media into helpful chunks of information.  You can get the comprehensive list of Lawyers on Twitter, Legal Research, and Profiles of Your Favorite Attorneys.

The amount of information is immense and sifting through it all can be a little overwhelming.  Spend enough time on the site, however, and you will learn a lot of things that you never knew.  At the end of it all, the two one-line marketing slogans that JDSupra uses ring true:

(1) Get Noticed. Widely.
(2) Be Found in Search.

In conclusion, I invite @JDTwitt and the other JDSupra folks to add comments about why they think their service is valuable to those involved in the legal field.  Those comments will be added to the post or included in the comment section.  This is a site about social media after all.  It seems like those who receive the focus of the spotlight should be allowed to make a few social contributions.

–Tyson
http://twitter.com/tysonsnow
http://linkedin.com/in/tysonsnow
http://facebook.com/tysonsnow


The LinkedIn Bible: If Your Profession is Your Religion, This May Be for You

June 17, 2009

Today’s entry comes from our friends at CIO.com (http://www.cio.com) and, in a summary fashion, claims to include everything that you need to know to market yourself on LinkedIn, to build a massive network of professionals, to manage connections and recommendations, and much, much more.

Why a LinkedIn article in the middle of Twitter’s massive impact on the Iranian elections (check out #IranElection) and the mass scramble to participate in the Facebook landgrab?  Well, it is always good to be focusing on resources that are presently being underutilized by significant numbers of people.  Right now, LinkedIn fits that category.  It is one of the original and probably the best known social network for working professionals.  I my self have ignored my LinkedIn account often enough.  But I’m learning from my mistakes and reasserting myself in the LinkedIn community.  And I’m experiencing a lot of success from the results.

I’ll leave it to the experts at CIO.com and C.G. Lynch (the author of the article) the delve into the details.  Highlights include:

  1. Five dos and don’ts of LinkedIn etiquette;
  2. Building strong network profiles;
  3. Managing LinkedIn connections;
  4. Utilizing LinkedIn company profiles;
  5. Getting the most from LinkedIn recommendations;
  6. Using free LinkedIn applications; and
  7. The ins and outs of open networking on LinkedIn.

This list is a good overview and, while the additional information is not “in-depth” by any stretch of the imagination, it serves as an excellent starting point for those learning how to use LinkedIn and how to use it successfully.

I’m going to add an eighth category to the list.  It is: “Using questions and answers to establish yourself as an expert in any given field or on any given issue.”  Here are the steps that LinkedIn suggests for establishing yourself as an expert in a particular field:

When you see a green box with a white star on a Profile, you know that person has proven their expertise by answering questions posed in the Answers forum. They have had answers selected as the ‘Best’ answer and are given expert status. Answer experts can be found at the bottom of the Answer home page. To earn expertise:

  1. Find questions in the areas you know.
  2. Browse questions to find categories familiar to you and answer those questions.
  3. Every time the questioner picks your answer as the ‘Best’ answer, you gain a point of expertise in the category of the question. The more points of expertise, the higher you appear on lists of experts. Private answers don’t count toward expertise

See [Earning Expertise in Answers]. And suddenly, you are an expert.  Well, maybe not suddenly but, if you have valuable information to contribute, your opinions will soon be respected and you will find yourself fielding and answering more and more questions.  My success in this regard has only recently begun but I have been amazed to see the amount of interest it has resulted in.  I get several phone calls and emails a day from people with employment law concerns.  As a management side attorney, I can’t take a lot of these cases, but I can help people out and, at the end of the day, if your number one goal as a lawyer is to help out each and every person you can, you will either find success or it will find you.

One additional quick tip.  I’ve added some of LinkedIn’s Q&A RSS feeds to my Google Reader (and other RSS Agregators).  This way, I get an alert anytime a question is asked in a category or field in which I am interested in promoting myself, my experience, and my knowledge.  The prime example of this is the Employment Law Group.  I subscribe to all the questions and therefore can quickly determine whether I can answer and whether I have time to provide an answer that is actually substantive and helpful.

Always remember, if your answer doesn’t take long to compose or if you are simply cutting and pasting from Google, Bing, Wolfram, or any other search engine, the answer probably isn’t too valuable.  Most people know how to find basic information on the Internet.  But as a working professional, LinkedIn allows you to utilize your expertise to help others and build your network.  You should do it.

Make sure you promote your LinkedIn profile in additon to all your other social media endeavors.  It takes time to become involved and it takes even more time to start seeing results.  But if you sew the seeds now, the harvest will eventually come.

View Tyson Snow's profile on LinkedIn
http://www.linkedin.com/in/tysonsnow

If you are not in my network, you should be.  Feel free to add me or you can always catch me on Twitter if you have additional questions: @tysonsnowhttp://twitter.com/tysonsnow


How Marketers Use Twitter

April 30, 2009

I recently ran across this interesting post.  It lists the “100 Best Twitter Tools for Marketers.”  The article does not provide a lot of analysis but it does list a ton of Twitter tools that I was not even aware of.  You may want to check it out:

The 100 Best Twitter Tools for Marketers
(via onlineuniversitylowdown.com)

I’ll take a deeper look at some of the tools referenced on that site and let you know what I think.  Of course, your comments are more insightful and helpful than anything I ever write, so please share!